The Essex County Child Psychiatrist Consultation Pilot Project

Children's Mental Health

A statewide chapter of the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health

SPAN is a chapter of the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.  The vision of the National FFCMH is that, "through a family and youth driven approach, children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges and their families obtain needed supports and services so that children grow up healthy and able to maximize their potential."  For more information and resources, go to

The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network shares the grief of our nation regarding the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona.  We are sharing these tip sheets in hopes that they might help families and professionals grapple with this tragedy and its impact on our children.

Student-Created PSA's on High Risk Behaviors

Fact Sheets


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Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder (English and Spanish)

Choosing a child and adolescent psychiatrist is a big decision. Often it is difficult to know when to seek help. Once you have decided to find treatment it can be hard to know where to find it. If you would like to read more about choosing a child and adolescent psychiatrist, knowing when to seek help and where to find help please see the Facts for Families listed on the website.


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Statement of Principles

Children and families face many obstacles in today's world.  In these times of limited resources, it is essential that federal, state and local services be delivered efficiently, effectively, without duplication or bureaucratic barriers to maximize funding for children and families.  The Children and Family Initiative recognizes that this goal can only be attained if:

1.  Children and families can access a fully unified and integrated system of supports and services.  Children and families need a seamless process making available a comprehensive continuum of services in their communities.  The establishment of a common point of entry for services to children and families will help reduce duplication of effort.  Through a common point of entry, children and families can access the same basic assessment, a team approach to planning, case coordination/ management, information and referral, and supports and services to both children and families.  A system that allows children and families to move between levels of care on an as needed basis without disruption to or loss of continuity of necessary services saves the expense of "recertification" for services and avoids the deterioration of family circumstances that often arises when services are disrupted.  A new "tracking and payment" system, with pooled funding and funding attached to the child/family rather than to specific programs, would be a more efficient and effective way to address children/family needs.

2.  Children and family services are planned and implemented with agency collaboration, coordination and leadership at all levels (state, county and local).  Children and families need leadership and commitment from cabinet officers, division directors and other senior officials toward parent/family empowerment and systems change.  This leadership and commitment will be clear if the principles of the Children and Family Initiative are enforced from the top down and across systems.  Services will be more effective and efficient if all agencies that impact on children and families (Education, Health, Human Services, Labor, Community Affairs, Juvenile Justice, etc.) collaborate in planning and service delivery, jointly funding and/or pooling funding to the maximum extent appropriate.  While responsible oversight and enforcement is important, overregulation or rigidity can interfere with the most effective service delivery.

3.  Parents/family members are full partners in all aspects of the process.  Families need to be informed, effective participants in state, regional, and local policy planning, governance, and decision-making, and in decision-making for their own children.  Families possess information that is crucial for effective service delivery; in addition, most families have the life-long commitment to their children that is necessary to ensure that services have the desired impact.

4.  Children and families receive services from  service providers and other professionals who are fully prepared to work as partners with families.  Effective service providers are fully competent in working in partnership and mutual respect with diverse families; they recognize that valuing the hopes, dreams and priorities of families and building on family and community strengths improves the impact of services.  Higher education agencies and professional continuing education must incorporate this philosophy and relevant skill-building into their programs.

5.  Children and families can access "family-friendly," culturally competent service delivery.  Effective professionals across systems work with and provide services in ways that are appropriate for diverse families, including caretakers such as foster parents, other relatives and non-traditional family constellations, and families from varying racial/ethnic/socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds.  When the focus is on the level and type of need rather than deficits, dysfunctions, negative labels or blame, families are more receptive to services and change.

6.  Children and families can access a full continuum of prevention services and models that promote healthy development and self-sufficiency.  Preventive measures, such as pre- and post-natal medical care, nutrition, quality education, access to decent housing and employment have well-documented positive impacts on children and families.  Schools that utilize their resources to become havens of emotional wellness allow children to learn and develop to their fullest potential.  When social development/social problem-solving is part of the "core curriculum, taught consistently in grades pre-K through 12, and made available to families, children, families and communities all benefit.  Positive behavioral supports in schools and families can reduce the need for more expensive services.

7.  Children and families can access a full continuum of intervention services, as early as needed, in the least restrictive, most natural environments.  Services are most effective when they are flexible, customized, comprehensive, and accessible, and are designed to offer supports and services in the most independent, normal manner and the least restrictive, most normal settings, as close to home as possible.  Children and families also respond to incentives to maintain, develop or achieve maximum social and economic self-sufficiency.  For those children who need more intensive services, planning and service delivery must avoid/minimize the potential for multiple placements/multiple failures, ensure a range of options and services for children and families, and provide appropriate education, mental health, and other services in all settings.

8.  The needs of children and families are addressed by systems that engage in ongoing assessment of individual needs as well as overall needs of children and families throughout the state.  Comprehensive, coordinated assessments of the strengths and needs of families and children must be available across systems to avoid duplication of effort and maximize efficiency and effectiveness.  Assessment must include the hopes, dreams and priorities of families.  To measure effectiveness, the satisfaction of families and children must be periodically determined, outcomes and performance objectives must be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and periodic status updates or "report cards" must be provided to stakeholders for review and comment.

9.  Children and families can readily access information regarding their own services, as well as the overall performance of systems of services.  To ensure effectiveness and efficiency, services must be organized in a way that ensures ongoing performance outcomes that will drive system changes, funding directions, resource utilization, and planning.

10.  Children and families receive efficient, sufficient, effective, and fully funded services.  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  When children and families receive sufficient appropriate services at the earliest stages, the need for more expensive services can be ameliorated or eliminated, and the health and well-being of children, families and communities are most easily maintained.

The most effective services are also often the most efficient.  Time-consuming bureaucratic barriers not only frustrate and deter families from seeking and accessing the services they need, but also cost taxpayer dollars that could be used in other ways.  The goal of the Children and Family Initiative is to ensure that children and families receive the services they need to overcome the obstacles in their own lives and become productive, active participants in our communities, through coordination of services across agency lines, elimination or reduction of bureaucratic barriers, and sufficient funding for services.  

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For more information about the Children and Family Initiative,
 contact Diana Autin at (973) 642-8100, or send e-mail to

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